Kevin from Cork, Ireland…you SUCK!

Posted by - October 24, 2011 | Category: Library

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Kevin from Cork Ireland -- an idiot and his graffiti

There are few things I dislike in this world. Green peppers, Paris Hilton, the public clipping of toe nails – minor annoyances. All superficial really.

But one thing that’s creeped onto that pet peeve list lately is graffiti. Not the arty, subversive Banksy-type stuff gritty’ing up inner-city walls, but the handwritten crap that scars tourist attractions across the globe. The “I-was-here-but-now-I’m-gone-so-I-left-my-name-to-turn-you-on” variety – scrawled, scratched, and scribbled by Sharpie-wielding halfwits on holidays.

What compels these morons to impart lowbrow limericks or “Joanie + Chachi 4Ever” missives I’m not sure. Bathroom walls are one thing, but on sacred and solemn sites? Tsk, tsk. One thing I do know…

Kevin from Cork, Ireland is one of those morons.

Do not write or paint on the photos or wall

There shouldn’t need to be signs reminding you not to write on the walls here, but regardless, idiots like our pal Kevin do just that.

This is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum barbed wire

In quieter times, it was a high school. Nicknamed S-21, Pol Pot’s communist Khmer Rouge regime used it as a prison during its rise to power in 1975 up to its fall in 1979.

Photos of victims of Pol Pot's regime, Tuol Sleng Prison Genocide museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Today it is a museum documenting the thousands who were tortured and murdered both here and at nearby Choeung Ek – the most infamous of the Killing Fields of Cambodia.

Prison shackles, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Tuol Sleng prison bed

When Tuol Sleng was discovered by the invading Vietnamese army in 1979, combat photographer Ho Van Tay documented what he saw when he entered each cell. Today, his chilling photos are on display in each of the rooms.

Photo of S21 prison victim, Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

Toul Sleng prison bed photo

Of the up to 20,000 people who were imprisoned here, only 7 made it out alive.

human skull at tuol sleng prison Phnom Penh

Graves at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Tuol Sleng prison window in black and white

The sad thing is, Kevin is not alone. There are hundreds of feeble-minded vandals armed with markers, crayons, and yes, even lipstick, who feel the need to deface in a multitude of languages.

Tuol Sleng graffiti

Graffiti at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Tuol Sleng S21 wall graffiti

S21 wall graffiti

I don’t get it. And I’m not sure what else to say.

Except maybe…

Kevin from Cork, Ireland (and those like you)…you SUCK!

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125 comments - add one
  1. I’m not sure what else to say, either. Just that I’m as disgusted as you are about the graffiti at Tuol Sleng. I haven’t visited there, but know of the atrocities at this site. Thanks for your post.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more! The vandalism you are writing about is especially sickening, but I’ve seen it on historic and religious sites myself and always wondered who would ever find it acceptable. Kevin from Cork really does suck.

  3. My pet peeve is people who litter at memorials and other attractions. Even when there are plenty of bins around, some jerk always leaves their drink bottle or ice cream wrapper stuck into a crevice or in a corner somewhere.

  4. I agree that defacing sites of genocide, torture, horror, etc. is absolutely disgusting and tasteless. But why the little classist dig (“cheap vacations, one would assume”)? Have you never met rich people who are also ignorant, selfish, and stupid? They certainly exist.

    1. Thanks for commenting Michael. I’ve met scads of classless rich folk. I’ve also removed the dig…it didn’t flow that well, and I think it reads better. Thanks!

  5. that just frustrates me. why deface ANY place. Go tag your own home and leave everywhere else alone. I get so annoyed when I see that it just makes me want punch someone…

  6. I don’t get it. WHY would people do something like that? It is SO ignorant. They do suck. I am looking forward to going to Cambodia and seeing this. Hopefully there won’t be heaps more idiotic “I was here” marks …

    1. Some folks were trying to leave a message like “Stop War” or “Join Amnesty International”, but that message is certainly cheapened when it’s scraped into a wall near where thousands were murdered.

      You will love Cambodia though…

  7. Wow. Thanks for sharing that, Raymond. Seriously, what is going through the heads of people who choose to deface historical sites? Disgraceful.

  8. I don’t get it at all either. I was speechless and humbled when I went there, it was so difficult to see. I saw couples together where the girl posed for photos – so weird!

  9. We hear you! It’s beyond our mental capacity (obviously- because we cannot figure out for the life of us) the purpose or draw to do this and ruin our experience as travellers.

    Thanks Newf!

    Nancy & Shawn

  10. Normally, I hate graffiti, but I actually found some of the expressions of hope, deity, rebuttal at Tuol Sleng really interesting and cathartic. Where there’s no other way to express ones self, people will find a way.

  11. I have seen graffiti in quite a few places where I would not expect it. The only reasoning I can think of is that these people do not have any concept that the world is not about them. They have had an idyllic lifestyle and do not have the ability to connect with the places they see. They just come and go instead of really understanding what that place is about.

  12. Very immature. And I suppose (or hope, at least) most of these scribblers are very young.

    Funny though – in Egypt, I noticed heaps of ‘graffiti’ from the late 1800s. Instead of writing, people used hammers and chisels, carving their names onto monuments. Worse in a way, as it’s so difficult to get rid of. Yet, since the vandalism was from so long ago, it became interesting in its own right. Easier to forgive the idiots of the past, perhaps…

    1. I’ve noticed ancient graffiti in Egypt as well — some from the 1700’s even. It was interesting indeed, but I don’t think some of the stuff scribbled at Tuol Sleng has the same staying power or appeal.

  13. Kevin from Cork aside, I never realize the true brutality of the Khmer Rouge. I knew Pol Pot was evil but this is sickening. I’ve spent time touring Dachau and Auschwitz and no one would think of leaving their names there. Not sure why people would think it is OK here!

  14. of all the places… (sigh)… dont know what to say.. i personally didnt noticed the vandals when i was there because i went out right away.. couldnt take it that much especially after seeing the pics of the kids that were killed 🙁

  15. I can’t even form words right now. Maybe I’m naive, but I just wouldn’t think that someone would be that ignorant to be so disrespectful at a place like this. In a pub bathroom wall, sure, you’re still an idiot, but who cares…

    UGH… and I can’t believe you don’t like green peppers, they are SOOOOOSOSOSOS delicious!

  16. I can’t help but thing that this is man’s earliest version of twitter. It is instant gratification, to document something that has gone through ones mind. Perhaps thought provoking, perhaps the result of being dropped one too many times on the floor as an infant. It is an opportunity to connect or provoke a grandiose thought or to share a brain fart that you wish you could vacuum the second it has made its way to the masses, aka the internet. Perhaps we could look at this in the same manner that we do with a simple tweet, an opportunity to glimpse into social feedback at the time. No different that that graffiti in the hall of mirrors at Versailles or the ancient marking in the various sites of Athens. In retrospect, the ancient graffiti seemed slightly entertaining to me some how. Maybe when left alone, some one in the near future with or without functioning brain mass will reflect on ancient markings from the 21 century with the glee of a 15 year our with a huge black jiffy marker.

    1. Except on Twitter, I choose who I follow. Here, everyone who strolls by gets hit in the face with this shite. And I think you’re right about the being dropped on the head bit.

  17. Totally agree with you. We visit sacred places like this NOT to find out who has been here. Such an eyesore, those ‘graffiti’. I hope more people will be aware of what a nuisance this is, so that there will still be some nice and unpolluted wall left 10 years down the road!
    PS: I’m surprised why I didn’t follow you earlier too! 🙂

  18. That is so sad. We were there in 2003 and I don’t recall seeing graffiti. What is compelling people to do this anywhere let alone at such a tragic location. IT is impossible to walk through Tuol Sleng without becoming emotional. What happened there was horrific.

  19. I SO agree with you, but at what point does graffiti become ‘history’? In some places in OZ, name/date/’woz here’ type graffiti has been preserved as historic because it was made in the 1800’s!!

  20. Agreed. So obnoxious!

    The one exception from my travels was a gazebo on Kuata in Fiji. They encouraged people to sign and it was kind of cool to leave your mark.

  21. Only 7 leave it alive? Gosh.. That’s really awful. And I’m wondering, what’s the condition of those 7 when they left the place. Seeing photos of the victims is already more than enough to make me shiver. I also wondering, same with you, why there are some people who did such a stupid unnecessary thing like that?

  22. I remember being amazed by that as well. Some people just don’t seem to get it. I remember when I was there I saw a western couple snogging in one of the corners. Surely there is a time and place?

    And S-21 is not it.

    1. I know what you mean. There was a couple when I was there as well who wandered through each room just chatting about nonsense — school, restaurants, what they were doing on the weekend. Everyone else was in silence out of respect, but not those two. Not sure why there are so many people who just don’t get it…

      1. Thats it, people just don’t get it. I don’t understand sometimes. Or someone saying “It is so boring, there is nothing to do there.” They missed the point entirely.

  23. Just that I’m as disgusted as you are about the graffiti at Tuol Sleng. I haven’t visited there, but know of the atrocities at this site. Thanks for your post.

  24. Just looking at the photos of the cells and the victims has filled me with disgust and sadness. I can’t imagine what I’d feel like if I was there in person but I KNOW I wouldn’t feel the urge to leave my mark by adding graffiti to the walls. It’s a worry that people can be so desensitised as to even think about doing that!

  25. Maybe a guest book, or even a graffiti wall would give the wannabe graffiti artist somewhere to release the emotional artist which is lurking inside him. Don’t like graffiti myself, but some people obviously do, i guess you could liken it to a dog leaving it’s mark.

  26. That’s unfortunate. I have not heard of the Genocide Museum but plan on going when Gerard and I are in Cambodia next year. Those #’s are heart-breakingly shocking. Thanks for sharing the photos. I hate Kevin too!
    Oh, and totally with you on the public nail clipping thing. Yuck.

  27. This pisses me off, too. It’s one thing to write on bathroom stalls, but another entirely to write on walls at sites meant to honor and remember people who suffered terribly.

  28. Was there yesterday and saw exactly what you did and more. Idiot tourists posing on the hanging gallows, getting the young Cambodian girls they had brought with them to take the perfect photos of their pose. Saw one ‘gent’ actually spit on the site… sigh…if only there was a filtering system to keep them out, but I guess that is the price of democracy…every one gets a this case to be a moron.

      1. Did forget to say that this is a great blog post (wish I had though of it!) as the number of times you see this kind of thing drives me crazy. Would it be an outrageous call that anyone found with a marker pen in a place of historic or cultural significance is taken out the back and the S***t slapped out of them? Does that make me a bad person? 😉 Keep up the good work man on the Lam!

  29. oh my. don’t know what to say. except: Kevin, you suck!
    it makes me really sad when people do this. here in Berlin there’s a “new tourist attraction” at Potsdamer Platz where you can find a piece of the Berlin Wall… and several weeks ago people started sticking their chewing gums on it. every day there are new ones. so sad.

  30. What a shame! But you’re right, graffiti like this seems to be everywhere, which is really disheartening. I see it a lot on the rocks and deserted habitations of the Native Americans when I travel to the national parks.

    1. It’s weird but you see grafitti in the most unusual places. You would think that the people who go on hikes to remote areas are the ones who appreciate the value of nature, but sadly, that’s not always the case.

  31. That’s so terrible. I hate seeing graffiti like that. It’s everywhere, too. I saw it at the pyramids in Egypt and have seen it in so many other inappropriate places. Thanks for calling attention to it.

  32. Like everyone else, cannot fathom why anyone would do this.

    S21 and the Killing Fields are two of the most sobering places I have ever visited. I can’t imagine even thinking about writing anything on the walls!

  33. We share a pet peeve on this one. I have never understood the childish desire to write your name on things. If somebody really feels the need to write their name on something they should go somewhere that allows it. Like Gino’s Pizza in Chicago. It’s a giant guest book!

  34. I am trying to be charitable.

    I think that Kevin and others were trying to reduce in their minds what happened there because they cannot grasp it, they cannot imagine what went on there.

    They can see the photos, but they cannot let the reality in – but the imagery is so powerful that it starts to creep in – so they scribble a bit of their own ‘normal’ identity on the walls to blot that reality out.

    Or – not being charitable – they are mindless idiots – there are plenty of those about, too.

    Or, and this is a sobering thought – the Cambodians who carried out these atrocities were just people too. Perhaps Kevin in another life might have been one of them.

  35. They also have a reminder asking you not to run and laugh, which you would also have thought, in a sane world, redundant. But, yeah, Kevin from Cork sucks Satan’s cock…

  36. Kevin is a loser, a really pathetic human being that apparently needs the world to think he is important instead of going out and doing something important. But enough of that, thank you for posting about such an emotionally disturbing place to remind us what can happen when power is abused.

  37. Great post Raymond! And yes Kevin does suck, luckily he’s from the Republic of Ireland – if he was from Northern Ireland I’d be deeply upset. I have also been to Tuoul Sleng and the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek and am appalled that someone could graffitti it. It’s a disgrace. However, I have signed my name a few times on other things, when it was appropriate to do so. What an idiot Kevin is. How sad. Safe travels. Jonny